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US may set up terror interrogation unit

world Updated: Jul 19, 2009 09:30 IST

The Obama administration is considering creating a special unit of professional interrogators to handle key terror suspects, focusing on intelligence-gathering rather than building criminal cases for prosecution, a government official said.

The recommendation is expected from a presidential task force on interrogation methods that plans to send some findings to the White House on Tuesday.

The official said the panel, which has not completed its work, has concluded that the unit of intelligence and law enforcement agencies should be created. The task force is unsure which agencies should have a role, though the CIA and FBI are expected to be important players, according to the official. He was not authorized to publicly discuss the panel's work and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, said President Barack Obama has not reviewed the task force's recommendations. LaBolt declined to discuss any findings. The recommendation about the new unit was first reported in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

The unit's structure would depart significantly from such work under the Bush administration, when the CIA had the lead and sometimes exclusive role in questioning al-Qaida suspects. The task force has not reached a conclusion as to which agency should lead the unit or where it should be based, the official said.